In discussions of Chinese actresses, Fan Bingbing is likely the first name to come up. She’s probably the most famous actress within China; internationally, she’s best known for her role in the X-Men franchise — or at least she was until recently. Last year, she became famous for quite different reasons. The star’s future took a turn for the worse when she was caught up in a massive, catastrophic tax evasion scandal.
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After months of fans and media outlets (including this one) asking “where’s Fan Bingbing?“, the government announced that Fan would owe fines of nearly 600 million RMB. Fan disappeared from the public eye, making only sporadic appearances since. Her Weibo account, which once posted regular selfies and updates about the various brands she worked with to nearly 63 million followers, has largely fallen silent, other than her grovelling apology and a post stating her opposition to Taiwanese independence.
So it came as a surprise when, after the silence, Fan reappeared under unexpected circumstances: on March 26, it was reported that she was opening a beauty salon in Beijing’s bustling business district of Guomao. Fan’s fiance Li Chen, her younger brother Fan Chengcheng (who is also a major pop star in his own right), and other A-list friends attended the grand opening ceremony. Reports also mentioned that the salon’s services were inordinately pricey, with the least expensive package costing 50,000RMB (around 7,400USD).
The news quickly went viral on Weibo under the hashtag “Fan Bingbing Opens Beauty Salon“, generating an array of reactions from users.
“So she leaves the entertainment industry and starts making money from other people,” writes one. “It’s good that her attitude is active and healthy, and she can make a comeback,” others argue.
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But another twist appeared when readers learned that the beauty salon might not actually belong to Fan after all.
One day after the original news broke, a relative of Fan denied the star’s ownership of the salon. He told reporters that she was only invited by a friend — designer Zhang Shuai — to attend the opening. The news was confirmed later in a separate post by Zhang, thanking Fan and others for support.
The surge of interest shows that whatever Fan’s next moves are, they’ll be closely watched. Despite attempting to keep a low profile, she remains the subject of wild speculation — this week she’s already back in the headlines over rumors she’s pregnant and will be marrying Li in April, possibly in Paris (the couple originally postponed their wedding following the scandal).
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Whether she’ll retire from the entertainment industry completely or attempt a comeback via Simon Kinberg-helmed spy thriller 355 — which Fan was initially signed on to with Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, and Marion Cotillard before her disappearance — also remains shrouded in doubt.
And it’s not just Chinese media outlets who remain fascinated by the star’s fall from grace, as a recent deep dive on the Fan Bingbing scandal from Vanity Fair demonstrates.
The road remains rocky for Fan, and the waves of her scandal in the limelight have obviously not yet settled, but it’s clear that fan interest remains high in exactly what her future holds.
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